LXII RISE OF THE SAFAVI DYNASTY 253
And Christian merchants, that with Russian stems
Plow up huge furrowes in the Caspian sea,
Shall vaile to us, as Lords of al the Lake.
Milton, too, must have obtained through these
pioneers the information on which he based the lines
quoted as a heading to this chapter.
An Account of Persia by D'Alessandri, A.D. 1571.—The
later years of Tahmasp were comparatively uneventful.
Uzbeg raids on Khorasan would not trouble him greatly
at Kazvin, but a terrible famine which occurred in A.H.
957 (I57I)j an<i a visitation of plague which followed,
probably affected the entire country.
Not long before his death the Shah was visited by
Vincentio A. D' Alessandri,1 Ambassador of Venice, who
was sent to the Court at Kazvin to persuade Tahmasp
that the Turks were about to seize Cyprus from the
Venetians, and that unless he attacked the Ottoman
dominions he would be the next victim. The mission
failed in its object, but thanks to it we have an interesting
description of Persia written by a competent observer.
D' Alessandri states among other things that the route
from Hormuz was entirely neglected and that the main
route via Aleppo was deserted. He also mentions Anthony
Jenkinson. His account of Tahmasp is far from flattering.
He describes him as " of middling stature, well formed
in person and features, although dark, of thick lips and
grisly beard." He refers to the fact that he had not left
his palace for eleven years and that the people were in
consequence unable to present petitions to him. The
roads are declared to be unsafe and the judges venal.
Altogether the impression conveyed is that the country
was utterly neglected by the monarch, who cared only
for money and women.
IsmailIL, A.H. 984 (1576).—It was the custom among
the Safavi monarchs to commit their sons to the guardian-
ship of the great tribal chiefs, and consequently, upon
the death of Tahmasp, who was poisoned by the mother
of one of them, Haydar by name, furious rivalries were
unchained. Haydar was on the spot and was the nominee
1 Travels of Venetians in Persia, p. 225 ff.